Newsletter volume 1 number 13
We recently received a call from a major Hollywood studio asking if we could help improve a new TV talk show host's interviewing skills. We gladly responded to the request.
The show was to begin filming in two weeks, and the studio wanted our feedback as quickly as possible. The next day's mail brought videotapes of the host's two pilot shows. It didn't take long to determine what needed to be corrected - essentially the same things most interviewers need to improve.
Ask open-ended questions.
It was apparent that one of the host's difficulties was the habit of starting questions with a verb - we counted 19 such questions. "Do you have brothers and sisters?" As our seminar participants know, those close-ended questions are too easy to answer with a simple "yes" or "no." They also imply that the question doesn't deserve more than a short, polite answer.
Listen while the interviewee is speaking.
We also spotted a tendency for the host to be thinking of the next question while the guest was answering the last one. The result? Several redundant or unnecessary questions were asked because the guest's response was not heard.
Probe for more information.
Finally, the host needed some pointers on how to probe more deeply into what the guest was saying. The following analogy used in our seminars reinforces this idea: Imagine you are walking across a field and come to a pond. You pick up a flat pebble and skip it across the pond. This is similar to what many interviewers do during an interview, skipping around from topic to topic without ever getting any real depth or substance.
Now - improve your interviewing skills, and Hollywood may call you!